Thousands gather at the March4Justice demonstration in Melbourne on Monday. Source: AAP

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Thousands of women march across Australia demanding an end to violence and inequality

Huge demonstrations are taking place across Australia as part of the women's March4Justice. Catch all the action here on the SBS News live blog.

Thousands gather at the March4Justice demonstration in Melbourne on Monday. Source: AAP

Published , updated 15 March 2021, 5:37 pm
By SBS
15 March 2021, 1:00 pm

Brittany Higgins delivers emotional speech at rally

Brittany Higgins has begun delivering an emotional address to the crowd outside Parliament House.

"I speak to you today out of necessity. We are all here today not because we want to be here, because we have to be here. We fundamentally recognise the system is broken, the glass ceiling is still in place, and there are significant failings in the power structures within our institution. We are here because it is unfathomable that we are still having to fight this same stale, tired fight."

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15 March 2021, 12:54 pm

Brittany Higgins arrives at Canberra women's march

Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins has arrived at the women's march outside Parliament House. 

Since she went public with her rape allegation a spotlight has been placed over the workplace culture and treatment of women in Australian politics. 

15 March 2021, 12:43 pm

Labor, Greens, crossbench at women's march

Most of the Labor caucus is also in attendance, along with the Greens and the crossbench.

Here's shot of Opposition Anthony Albanese heading down with some of his team.

15 March 2021, 12:38 pm

Government MPs in attendance at women's march

Some backlash has been stirred up over Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Women Marise Payne's decision not to attend the women's march.

The pair had offered instead to meet privately with the event organisers. 

But we can see here some government MPs have made the decision to attend the rally. 

15 March 2021, 12:28 pm

'Women need to be heard, women need to be believed'

Australian television presenter Julia Zemiro is MCing the rally outside Parliament today. 

Here's a little of what she had to say in her opening address:

"We are here because we have to be. This system is failing all women. Women need to be heard, women need to be believed and they need to be safe everywhere." 

15 March 2021, 12:14 pm

Signs call for action against sexism and misogyny

Our reporter Pablo Viñales is also attending the March4Justice rally outside Parliament House. 

Here's some of the signs that have caught his eye. 

15 March 2021, 12:02 pm

March4Justice rally in Sydney kicks off

We're also starting to see some action in Sydney for the March 4 Justice rally today. 

Our reporter Tys Occhiuzzi is on the ground there for us: 

15 March 2021, 12:04 pm

Watch March4Justice rally live on SBS News

Here's where you can watch all the action live of the rally outside Parliament House: 

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/watch-women-s-march4justice-live 

15 March 2021, 11:50 am

Crowd builds outside Parliament for March4Justice rally

The crowd is starting to build outside Parliament House for today's March4Justice Rally. 

Looks like former independent MP Kerryn Phelps is among those in attendance.

15 March 2021, 11:42 am

Tanya Plibersek: 'It would be good if we had a government that was listening'

Labor's spokesperson for women Tanya Plibersek spoke earlier on the March4Justice rallies taking place today. 

She said a failure to address the discrimination faced by women over decades has fuelled frustration in the community. 

"The great frustration and anger that so many Australian women are feeling right now is because we've been saying this, we have been saying this for decades and it would be good if we had a Government that was listening."

Source: AAP

15 March 2021, 11:22 am

More than 90,000 people call for independent inquiry into historical rape allegations

There remain calls for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to launch an independent inquiry into the historical rape allegation made against Attorney General Christian Porter.  

More than 90,000 people have signed a petition calling for Mr Porter to be suspended as attorney-general and for an independent inquiry to be held over the complaint, which he denies.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham earlier on Monday rejected suggestions the government was out of touch with community expectations.

"I think Australians do expect that proper legal processes should be followed in relation to addressing such allegations," he told ABC radio.

15 March 2021, 11:30 am

Christian Porter commences defamation action against the ABC and a journalist

The ABC and journalist Louise Milligan initially broke the story relating to a historical rape allegation made against Attorney General Christian Porter, which he strenuously denies.

Here's some of the statement now put out by Mr Porter's lawyer Rebekah Giles, principal director of Company Giles: 

"Today the Attorney-General the Hon Christian Porter MP commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against the national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and journalist, Louise Milligan, for defamation," the statement reads.

"The article that he sues on made false allegations against him in relation to a person who he met when he was a teenager. Although he was not named, the article made allegations against a Senior Cabinet Minister and the Attorney-General was easily identifiable to many Australians as the subject of the allegations.

"Over the last few weeks, the Attorney-General has been subjected to trial by media without regard to the presumption of innocence or the rules of evidence and without any proper disclosure of the material said to support the untrue allegations."

The statement says Mr Porter would be willing to answer questions under oath.

"The trial by media should now end with the commencement of these proceedings. The claims made by the ABC and Ms Milligan will be determined in a Court in a procedurally fair process." it says.

"Mr Porter will have and will exercise the opportunity to give evidence denying these false allegations on oath."

15 March 2021, 10:45 am

Zali Steggall: 'Words are not enough and it is time for action'

Independent MP Zali Steggall has called for "line in the sand" to be marked in responding to sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

She will introduce a private members bill on Monday that would make sexual harassment illegal in all circumstances, including when perpetrated by politicians.

"It really needs to be a day when we mark a line in the sand and we say that words are not enough and it is time for action - it's time for legislative action," she told reporters.

Ms Steggall said the bill would amend the Sex Discrimination Act to address a "loophole" that means members of parliament and the judiciary are not liable for sexual harassment in their workplace under the act. 

She also intends to join protesters outside Parliament House today.

"It is time for justice - it is time for victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment and discrimination to have their voices heard and protected," she said.   

Source: Ben Patrick, SBS News

15 March 2021, 10:21 am

Anthony Albanese responds to workplace sexual harassment concerns in Labor party

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has responded to allegations of workplace sexual harassment made by former and current female Labor staffers.

It comes after the political staffers shared their concerns in a closed social media group as first reported by Samantha Maiden at news.com.au.

The staffers have also reportedly warned they would be prepared to go public with accusations against male colleagues unless their concerns were addressed.

"What we have is the terms of allegations, no names have been put forward in the documentation that I have seen that has been reported by Sam [Maiden]. But I encourage people to come forward. We have a process," Mr Albanese said.

He was asked if he would proactively address the allegations.

"It is hard to look into anonymous suggestions. That is the truth. If people have ideas about doing that, I would be happy to hear them. We have discussed it with ... I have spoken to a range of women leaders in the caucus yesterday and again today." 

15 March 2021, 10:11 am

Michael McCormack and March4Justice organiser meet in halls of Parliament

March4Justice organiser Janine Hendry surprised Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack in Parliament this morning - urging him to attend today's rally. 

Mr McCormack had previously said he would be too busy to go outside Parliament to attend.

Ms Hendry said Mr McCormack should come out and listen to what the women of Australia had to say.

"I'll see what we can do for you - I'm not making any promises but I'll see what I can do," Mr McCormack replied.

She also called on him to commit to action and change. 

"The women of Australia want some action. We are drawing a line in the sand right here," she said. 

15 March 2021, 10:46 am

March4Justice organisers reject Scott Morrison's offer to meet in private

March4Justice organisers have turned down an offer to meet with Prime Minister Scott Morrison in private, after government leaders declined to attend the rally in Canberra. 

Mr Morrison had extended an invitation to the event organisers after saying he would not attend the rally citing "when you're prime minister in Canberra, it's a very busy day". 

Women's March for Justice founder Janine Hendry called on Mr Morrison to come out to meet the protesters. 

"We have already come to the front door, now it's up to the government to cross the threshold and come to us," she said

"We will not be meeting behind closed doors."

You can read more about the March4Justice rallies set to go ahead here.

15 March 2021, 9:41 am

Welcome to our live coverage of the Women’s March4Justice rallies

Good morning and welcome to SBS News’ live coverage of March4Justice rallies set to take place across Australia. 

Tens of thousands of women are expected to march on Parliament House in Canberra as well as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane demanding action on gendered violence and misogyny. 

The calls for action come as Parliament returns for another sitting week with the spotlight on the government's recent response sexual assault allegations.

My name is Tom Stayner and I’ll be bringing you the most important developments throughout the day.

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